We have all heard of dry hopping, it seems to be a popular term in homebrewing and in craft beer. What exactly is dry hopping and how does it affect your beer? We break it all down is this week’s episode of Brew Talk with Mr. Beer.

What is dry hopping?

Dry hopping is when you add hops during the actual fermentation process, or after it is completed in some cases. It adds little to no bitterness and helps to maintain flavor and aroma in your hops, unlike adding hops to the boil, which imparts more bitterness.

Why do they call it dry hopping?

That term originated centuries ago, from British brewers. Beer producers would add half ounce fried hop plugs to kegs or casks right before they were sent out to customers. They found using these dried, compacted hop plugs, saved time and made hopping beer much easier.

What are the different methods of dry hopping?

You can Use a few different forms of hops in your dry hopping process. The most common option for most home brewers is hop pellets. Some brewers will also opt to use fresh hops or plugs a well.

Some brewers will opt to dry hop in the primary otherwise known as simply the “early” fermentation phase, this is when fermentation is most aggressive, and depending on the yeast you are you using, this can change aroma and flavor significantly. The bubbling of the C02 during this aggressive stage can sometimes strip hops or more delicate or complex flavors.

Perhaps the most common method of dry hopping is to add them in secondary fermentation (or later in the process, this would be starting at day 7 for most Mr. beer recipes and refills), after high krausen has subsided and the C02 is less likely to strip your hops of their flavor. Dry hopping in secondary does a really great job of maintaining the aroma of the hops.

Another option is adding hops directly to a keg, though you have to make sure to use a sack or some kind of containment method so that you don’t have solids clogging your draft system.

What are the best hops to use for dry hopping?

Usually for dry hopping you want to use hops that are classified as “aroma” hops. This means that hop lends great flavor and aroma when it is in its “non-isomerized” state. Some hop varieties are dual purpose and working well for bittering and aroma.

Some popular hops for dry hopping include

Citra, Mosaic, Centennial, Cascade, Azaaca and Strata just to name a few.

With the recent boom in new varietals, there’s a lot of them!

What is the difference between adding hops at flame out vs dry hopping?

As we’ve talked about before, Hops need heat to achieve “High isomerization”, usually at flame out your wort can easily still be 200+ plus degrees. Even though the temperature drops quickly after the flame is turned off, the heat will usually stay high enough for the hops to impart some bitterness, but not too much. It also helps them lend some flavor and aroma, though some of this can be lost in primary fermentation. Adding hops at higher temperatures, at flame out also helps to sanitize them in you are concerned about that.

Dry hopping imparts far less bitterness and maintains a lot more flavor and aroma, depending on when you do it.

How does dry hopping affect your beer?

Dry hopping makes your beer more “hop centric” it highlights the finer points of their flavor profiles but provides less bitterness.

Careful hop selection can also enhance other characteristics within a beer, including malt, any added spices or fruit, and can enhance or push back yeast character depending on what you choose to dry hop with.

What are some things to consider when dry hopping?

One of the most important things in my opinion when it comes to dry hopping is using hops that are fresh meaning they haven’t been sitting around for years, poorly stored.

It’s also important to consider how prevalent you want your hop flavor to be when considering the amount. The best way to figure that out is to start with smaller amount and scale up to. 

In conclusion, if you love hops you will love dry hopping! It creates unique flavor in your beer and is really fun to experiment with!